Pants, culottes and shorts! I feel that bottoms are – for many people, the biggest challenge when it comes to sewing. This is because there are a lot of factors that go into the fit of bottoms, and or those who don’t have a one size figure or who have yet to find a pattern company with a block that matches their measurements – or who don’t have a block of their own (like me), it means making adjustments. Perhaps that’s grading out or in at the hips, lengthening the crotch or shortening the crotch, adding in a sway back adjustment, a full stomach adjustment, lengthening the legs, shortening the legs, adding a longer zip, adding a second zip – the list goes on. I am still not at all confident when it comes to sewing pants, and I had some disastrous experiences. Not at all realising the various fit issues my figure presented, or even what style of bottoms best suited me. But among the various attempts I made, Butterick B6178 stands out as a great success for the time.
I was interested in adding more culottes to my wardrobe, and had been for some time. I love how culottes look on me, and I hadn’t realised back then – but a lot of culottes patterns are also high waisted. This probably explained why I gravitated towards them, as my love of high waisted trousers was slowly setting in. Having scoured the internet for reliable reviews, I found the response to View D of this pattern to be overwhelmingly positive. I saw it on multiple bodies, of all shapes and sizes, and heights too. It promised to be simple. It promised to not be such a struggle to fit. And most importantly, it promised pockets.
The pattern was, of course, a Spotlight special. The fabric was second-hand, having snatched it up at an op shop after a week spent wondering – where on Earth am I going to find bottom weight fabric! Combined with a second-hand zip in a matching colour and I was set!
Construction was fraught with mistakes, which experience has taught me were largely due to my lack of knowledge about how to construct pants and not really the fault of the pattern. But the one thing I am proud of was how I applied lessons from past sewing attempts in order to put these together. I had learned to be suspicious of the size chart, and that it was better to aim to fit my waist and then to grade out for the hips. So I started with a size 16, and then graded out to a 20 for the legs and hips. At the time I used a technique by Professor Pincushion on Youtube to swivel the pants pattern from the waist seam, which allowed me to then trace the original hip curve. It was a bit awkward, and I much prefer the techniques I use now. But it was a good starting point in learning proper pants grading. I then used the same technique to alter the shape of the pockets to match. I also changed the hemming method for the pants as their method seemed a bit whacky to me, and not the style I prefer.
But despite that, come the end of the process I had a magnificent set of culottes! These are functional, comfortable, and despite the waist still needing a bit of taking in, were perfectly wearable. The pockets were lovely and deep, and it all held together very well even after several rounds of washing and wearing. In the end I really only stopped wearing them as I lost quite a bit of weight, and attempts to unpick and downsize were not all that successful. I realise now it would’ve made more sense to unpick them entirely, recut them to a smaller size, and then to re-assemble from scratch. But I was still under the – never sew the same thing twice curse, and so by that stage had already donated the pattern!
Pattern: Butterick B6178
Views Made: View C
Pros: Comes with several style options, has a great length, very quick to cut out and prepare the pattern, economical layout in terms of cutting the fabric.
Cons: May require some grading for a figure with curve as that was my experience.
Would I recommend it to beginners: I would, but only if you’ve already had a go at putting pants together before and have some experience with zippers.
Would I sew it again: I think that I would if I was able to come across a second-hand copy, as I only get my patterns second-hand at the moment.